Episode 96: Alstroemerias with Ben Cross

This episode is the last one before Valentine’s Day. Of course, you may be thinking about buying some flowers to give on Sunday so I thought, what better person to interview than a British flower grower? So I’m talking to Ben Cross of Crosslands Flower Nursery, a family owned and run nursery specialising in cut Alstroemerias. Ben is an expert grower, public speaker, an ambassador for British flowers and founder of the British Flowers Rock Campaign. As you will find out, growing flowers isn’t all roses but Ben loves what he does and he starts by giving some background on the nursery and his involvement…

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What we talk about:

The history of Crosslands Flower Nursery and how Ben came to be involved

Specialising in growing Alstroemerias – why them?

The scale of the nursery operations

Organic and sustainable flower farming

Some of the biggest challenges facing British flower growers

The British Flowers Rock campaign

About Ben Cross

Ben is a 4th generation grower at Crosslands Flower Nursery which was established in 1936 in West Sussex and is one of the last flower nurseries producing cut flowers in a full colour range all year-round.

Ben’s British Alstroemeria is a very sustainable crop. His flowers are not sprayed with any chemicals after being harvested and go into recyclable, reusable boxes and arrive with customers the next day. No soil cooling techniques are used to force production and some flower beds are over 20 years old, still producing premium quality stems. Under 5% of the crop is replanted a year so sterilizing the soil is kept to a minimum.

The British Alstroemeria is known as a ‘Cool Crop’ and a ‘Dry Crop’ so doesn’t take much heat input or watering. Optimum heat at night through the winter is just 13°C via a biomass boiler and the crop is watered for just 20 minutes once a month in the winter and just 20 minutes once every 10 days in the summer unlike flowers grown in warmer countries that use a lot more water resource.

When Ben’s flowers have been picked they don’t go into big freezers, the cooling storage system at Crosslands is usually turned off between November and March. When the flowers need to be stored in warmer weather they’re only chilled at about 6°C instead of 0.5°C like most imported flowers. They are only stored for a couple of days before they are with the customers. They are a lot fresher than flowers that go all around the world. Most importantly all the stems are harvested at a ‘ripe’ big fat bud stage giving a bigger more vibrant flower unlike the imports that are harvested too tight so more can be transported in boats and planes.

Ben also only employs local people and more importantly does apprenticeship schemes with local horticultural colleges and goes into floristry colleges to give his British Flowers Rock Talks.

Next to being a full time grower, Ben is an avid campaigner for British Flowers and takes any opportunity he can to spread the word that British Flowers Rock!

Ben won the Grower Award in 2019 and won the Gold Sussex Environmental award in 2020.

Links

Crosslands Flower Nursery
Barnham Lane
Walberton
Nr Arundel
West Sussex
BN18 0AX

M: 07712332241
Email: crosslandsflowernursery@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter @AlstroemeriaBen

Follow on Instagram @AlstroemeriaBen

Find Us on Facebook at Crosslands Flower Nursery

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